Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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6/23/2011

More Disneyland

Filed under: — stan @ 10:33 pm

Today was the after-the-last-day-of-school trip to Disneyland. But Lucinda’s friends who have Disneyland passes couldn’t come. I told Lucinda that I’d made the arrangements, and Kathleen and I were going anyway, regardless of whether she wanted to go or not. So she stayed home and we went and had a nice day at the Magic Kingdom.

When we got there, we headed straight for the newly-reopened Star Tours, only to find that everyone else had had the same idea. This wasn’t really a surprise, but I’d hoped that the line might be not more than an hour. But it was too long. So we walked over and got some Fast Passes for Space Mountain for later in the day. Getting passes for that ride is like buying savings bonds. You have wait a long time for them to mature. In the meantime, we rode Big Thunder Mountain twice, California Screamin’ four times, had lunch, and rode the new Little Mermaid ride. By then, our passes for Space Mountain were ripe and ready, so we walked over there and went in.

We got all the way down to the last ramp when something happened and they shut the ride down. They turned on the lights, which was kind of weird. And they brought all the trains down. Apparently they have something like eight or nine trains running at a time in there. After a few minutes, they reset whatever had gone wrong, and they started it up again. So we finally got our ride on it.

We finished off the day at the Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Caribbean. Both old favorites. I thought it was funny that the ducks on the jungle cruise know that the alligator isn’t real, even a lot of small children don’t realize that.

All told, it was a fun day.

6/19/2011

Another trip to San Diego

Filed under: — stan @ 10:31 pm

This past weekend, Kathleen, Lucinda and I went to San Diego to visit my father, see the seals, and also visit the zoo.

We drove down there on Saturday morning. We had lunch with Grandpa, and then we went to La Jolla to see the seals. Sadly, there were few seals to be seen. The anti-seal people were asserting their ‘right’ to use the beach, and they scared most of the seals away. There were a couple swimming around just offshore, but most of them were camped out on a rock some distance out.

This was a big disappointment. Every time we go to San Diego, we make a point to go see the seals, and we’re there to see seals. We can look at people at any one of the many beaches in San Diego, but there’s only one where we can see seals.

After that minor fiasco, we went back and took Grandpa to Prado in Balboa Park for dinner. We go a bottle of The Pessimist wine with dinner. I kind of expected the bottle to be half-empty. As always, the food was great. We had a nice time there.

On Sunday morning, we went back to La Jolla. The seals usually come ashore by sunset, since the people leave then, and they’re usually still on the beach in the morning. But not today. There were already people on the beach, and the seals were scared away again. We saw some of them in the water, and a lot were on the same rock offshore, but there were none on the beach.

We took a walk and saw some sea lions on the rocks just a little bit north of the seal beach. We also visited Sunny Jim Cave. We’ve been there several times now, and they guy who runs the cave store remembered us.

After that, we went back to visit Grandpa again. My aunt and uncle had come to visit for the day, so we all went to lunch at Costa Brava in Pacific Beach.

On Sunday afternoon, Kathleen, Lucinda and I went to the San Diego Zoo. This was my first time there since 1987, and Lucinda was interested in seeing the giant pandas. We had a nice time there.

The pictures of the seals and sea lions at La Jolla Cove, as well as the zoo pictures, are all here:

animal pictures

Lucinda’s pictures are here.

6/9/2011

Art Walk

Filed under: — stan @ 10:38 pm

Tonight was the monthly Art Walk in downtown Los Angeles. We’d gone to this back in April, and it was a fun time. Lucinda and I went downtown and met up with Kathleen there. We made the rounds of the galleries and the food trucks. We got ice cream from the Lake Street Creamery, which was good, as always. We found the Grilled Cheese Truck, but sadly, the line for it was too long. I suppose that’s a recommendation. The Lobsta Truck also had a really long line.

We started out the evening at the Museum of Neon Art, since this is their last week downtown before they move to their new home in Glendale. From there, we just sort of randomly wandered around, looking in the galleries. There was lots of nice art, some old signs, and lots of neon. One of the galleries was in the old Los Angeles Stock Exchange, which was a very ornate and interesting building. There were even swastikas decorating one of the very old bank buildings on Spring Street.

All told, it was a fun evening.

6/2/2011

Art on a Thursday night

Filed under: — stan @ 10:47 pm

On Thursday night, Kathleen and I met up downtown to go to a little art gallery party at Art Share in downtown Los Angeles. This is a small community art center in an old warehouse and the gallery was showing art by five artists who have been active in the downtown art scene for many years. It was a small show, but fun. There was even some minor excitement when Malia K showed up with her entourage. We have no idea who she is, but everyone seemed to think she was some sort of Big Deal.

In the end, I bought a print of Mirpolsky’s “Sharks” for my house.

All in all, it was a fun evening adventure.

6/1/2011

Vents

Filed under: — stan @ 6:43 am

When Kathleen and I went to see the movie about Star Wars fans and George Lucas, we saw a trailer for “Dumbstruck“. This is a documentary about ventriloquists, and it looked interesting. So last night we made the trip over to Westwood to see it.

The film begins and ends at the Vent Haven convention in Kentucky, and it follows five ventriloquists. They range from a 13-year-old kid just learning the craft, to Terry Fator, who won on “America’s Got Talent” and went on to a $100-million contract performing in Las Vegas. We’d seen billboards all over town advertising his show when we were there last month. The film also visits the Vent Haven Museum for some history of the art.

All told, this was a really fun little movie. It’s got a good cast of nicely strange characters, and that’s just the people. We enjoyed it a lot.

5/17/2011

Major geek

Filed under: — stan @ 8:25 pm

This evening, Kathleen and I made the trek over to west L.A. to the Nuart Theater. The occasion was “The People vs George Lucas“, which promised:

The People Vs George Lucas takes a hard look at the man behind the most popular franchise in film history and asks: What the hell happened?

I’d recently borrowed DVDs of Star Wars Episodes 1, 2, and 3 in preparation for seeing this. And yes, having finally seen those movies now, I can understand all the anguished cries of disappointment that I’d heard from all the geeks when they first came out. The film’s web site even went so far as to say:

Is The Phantom Menace so bad it should carry a health warning?

So yes, this was all tremendously entertaining, and well worth seeing.

5/15/2011

Viva Las Vegas

Filed under: — stan @ 10:12 pm

I’ve been to Las Vegas twice in the last two years, both times to compete in the Stratosphere Tower stair climb. Each time, after I came back, Lucinda said that she wanted to go there. So this weekend, we did just that. Lucinda and I took a trip to Las Vegas with Kathleen and her daughter Trinh. It was a pretty free-form affair. We had two rooms reserved at the Stratosphere, and the only planned activities were riding the three big roller coasters. Beyond that, it was all open.

We headed out early Friday afternoon. That put us ahead of the Friday afternoon traffic, and it got us there a bit early. That meant that we had time to stop off at the state line and ride the Desperado roller coaster at Buffalo Bill’s in Primm. As always, Lucinda was a bit apprehensive, but afterward, she said that she liked it. So that was good.

When we got to Las Vegas, we checked in and then went to dinner at The Peppermill. Kathleen and I had gone there back in March when we were there for the stair climb, and we liked it. After that, we all took a walk down the Strip, since the girls wanted to do some sightseeing. Along the way, a homeless man christened Lucinda with a new nickname: “Pebbles”. After that, we went back to the Stratosphere and took a ride up the tower. At the top, we took in the view and had a look at the rides and all the lights from the city.

On Saturday morning, Lucinda and Trinh went to the Premium Outlet downtown to shop for swimsuits. And after that, they went to the pool. So that left me and Kathleen to our own devices. I got up early and went to do some stair climbing with my friend Randy. We went to Fitzgerald’s in downtown. Apparently, this is the hotel that the fire department trains in, so they don’t have a problem with people coming in there to run the stairs. We did the 33 floors four times, which was fun in its own weird way. Stair climbing is still the most painful thing I’ve ever done, but I still like it. I really can’t explain that.

After the stair climbing, Kathleen and I went out for some sightseeing and visiting. We had found out that my old tattoo artist, Dave Zero has a shop just about two blocks from the Stratosphere. So we took a walk up there to go see him. After that, we spent the rest of the afternoon there doing more typical Las Vegas-y things.

When dinner time arrived, we walked back to the Stratosphere and got the car. Then we headed down to Circus Circus to meet the girls there. We were all going to ride the Canyon Blaster roller coaster in the Adventuredome amusement park. We rode the coaster twice, since it was a pretty fun ride. Then we all went to dinner there before heading downtown. We’d seen an article about the Neon Museum and how they had a display of old neon signs on Fremont St in downtown. Since I’d never been there since they’d built the Fremont Street Experience, it seemed like it could be a lot of fun.

When we got there, the girls saw the zipline down Fremont St, and they all wanted to do it. I wasn’t really in the mood for it, so they went without me. While they waited in line, and I scoped out where to stand to get the best pictures when they came down the wire. My new camera has a low-light mode that works pretty well. They enjoyed their ride, and all in all, it was a very fun evening.

On Sunday, we checked out of the hotel and headed over to Randy and Lynn’s house for a barbecue. The girls went in the pool with their kids. Lucinda got a little sunburned, but aside from that, it was a good time. After that, we stopped off at Luv-It for some frozen custard. Yum. Then we went to New York, New York to ride the roller coaster there. But sadly, the wind had picked up enough that they’d closed the ride, so that will have to wait for next time.

By now, the girls were tired, and it was time to head for home. It was a fun weekend.

5/7/2011

Neon philately

Filed under: — stan @ 6:09 pm

Today, we went over to Glendale to a small party that they Post Office and the Museum of Neon Art were holding for the official release of a new stamp with a design based on neon art. This was held at the Americana in Glendale, which I’d never been to before. Kathleen described it as being “just like Disneyland, but without the rides.” I guess we’ll be seeing more of that area in the future, since the Museum of Neon Art is going to be moving in across the street some time early next year. They had the artist there to tell the story of how he came up with the design, and also to sign envelopes and sheets of stamps for the collectors.

We took a walk around just to see what else was there. We saw the requisite religious fanatic telling us the end is nigh. We also saw some faded old advertisements on a wall across the street. Being a cooking geek, we had to take a browse through Sur La Table to look all the overpriced kitchen gadgets.

It was a fun little afternoon adventure.

4/30/2011

Third time around

Filed under: — stan @ 4:48 pm

Today was the Lung Association’s “Fight for Air Climb” up the Aon building in downtown Los Angeles. 63 stories, 1377 steps, 858 feet from street level to the roof. Back in 2009, this was my first competitive stair climb. At the time, I’d entered it on a lark, just because I was curious what it would be like to climb that many stairs, and also because I thought it would be novel to stand on the roof of the building. Now, two years later, I’m doing this one for the third time. I guess that means I like it, even though it’s still the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Lucinda and Kathleen were both doing it, too, just like the little one we did in San Diego. We all went downtown together. We were with Mark and his West Coast Labels team, which is a great thing. We got to go in the first group with the elite runners at 9:00. In my case, that meant that there were fewer people to pass on the way up, which generally makes for a faster time. Kathleen and Lucinda made a point to start at the back of our group, since they weren’t planning on going terribly fast. Still, it meant that we’d get to all meet up again at the top.

When it as time to go, I trotted into the stairs and started climbing just like always. Once again, I left my metronome off for the first half of the climb. I just went at a comfortable but reasonably fast pace until I got to about the 30th floor. Then I turned the metronome on and used it as a target pace to maintain. Along the way, I passed a few of the people who’d started in front of me. At the 60th floor, I saw Randy’s wife, Lynn. She took pictures as I went by. I guess that the fact that I even noticed that she was there maybe meant that I wasn’t going fast enough. From there, it was just a couple more floors. When I saw the light from the roof door, I managed to find a little bit extra for a final sprint up onto the roof. As soon as I passed the timing mat, I got down on the ground and panted for a few minutes. Then I spent a few minutes looking at the view before I saw Lucinda come out of the stairway. We sat down and had some water while we waited for Kathleen. It was a nice day, and it was a good day to be up there.

When Kathleen got there, she sat down and rested for a few minutes before we all headed back down the other stairs to the party on the 60th floor. While we were there, I saw two girls with some very nice and large tattoos, so I went and found Oz and Randy so we could all do a picture of the tattooed stair climbers. By then, word came up from the ground that they were posting the times.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that my time was 11:45, which was only three seconds slower than last year, which is pretty much the same speed. While I’d have liked to go faster, it apparently wasn’t in the cards this time. But that was all right. In the end, it was good for 3rd place in the 50-59 age group, and 19th overall, out of 547 runners. I can’t complain about that. Lucinda did well, also. Her time was 20:57, which was good for 3rd in her age group, and was also faster than more than 50% of the women there. That’s not bad at all. So we both got a little podium time at the end. And Mark and the West Coast Labels group got the fastest times in almost all the age groups.

Overall, it was a fun outing. Now we will take a break and come back in the fall at the U.S. Bank tower climb.

Full results are here: https://www.runraceresults.com/Secure/RaceResults.cfm?ID=RCPJ2011

4/27/2011

Translating Raymond

Filed under: — stan @ 10:51 pm

Tonight, Kathleen and I went to see a preview screening of “Exporting Raymond“. This is a documentary about adapting and remaking “Everybody Loves Raymond” in Russia. I’m not a big TV watcher, so I’m only dimly aware of this show, but I hear it was quite popular for a long time. And the story of trying to translate it into Russian culture was very entertaining.

The film was made by and centers around Phil Rosenthal, who was the creator of “Everybody Loves Raymond”. He narrates the film, and he’s in almost all of it, as it chronicles his trips to Russia to advise the producers there about casting and acting to re-create the show.

In the end, it’s just a silly sitcom, but to see it this way with Phil as your guide, it’s really hilarious. Phil was at the screening, and he took questions at the end. He was just as funny in person as in the film. So overall, we really enjoyed this.

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